Saturday, June 7, 2014

Report of plane crash in Lake Superior

The U.S. Coast Guard and local agencies are responding to a report of a downed single-engine aircraft with one person aboard, northeast of Duluth, Minn., in Lake Superior Saturday afternoon.

The name and hometown of the person is not being released at this time, the Coast Guard said in a press statement.

Coast Guard units received a report from personnel at the Duluth International Airport tower of a single engine white and maroon airplane spiraling down with a loss of communications approximately seven nautical miles east of Duluth.

A 45-foot Coast Guard response boat was launched from Duluth along with a Dolphin helicopter from Traverse City to search the area.

“Responders from local agencies have located a debris field approximately 250 yards in length which included the pilots log book and jet fuel,” Coast Guard officials said Saturday.

The Duluth Fire Department plans to deploy a remotely operated vehicle to assist in the search.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NASA hitching ride to GEO orbit to deploy 'Separating Space Vehicle'

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is soliciting information about potential sources for on orbit delivery service of a Separating Space Vehicle (SSV) to geosynchronous orbit (GEO), according to contract documents released Thursday.

“Specifically, NASA seeks information about potential sources to deliver an SSV to GEO while attached to another satellite, which shall be referred to as the Ride Share Satellite (RSS),” the agency said in contract documents.

The SSV would be delivered to a stable geosynchronous orbit and then released. The SSV would then continue on its own power to perform an independent mission in the GEO belt. The contract documents provide no details on the SSV's mission objective.

Kennedy Space Center is working with other government agencies to manage the integration between the SSV with the RSS and the overall service management. The SSV will have a weight in the range of 1,000 to 1,200 kilograms. The orbit for the mission is GEO at a 0 degree inclination with a launch readiness date of no later than first half of fiscal year 2017.

The government will provide a fully developed SSV for integration onto the RSS and will serve as the technical lead for the interface to the RSS. The SSV will have a hydrazine monopropellant propulsion system with up to 100 kg in commodities, NASA said.

The SSV must be launched on a U.S. built launch vehicle fabricated in a U.S. facility and launched from a U.S. launch site. The RSS provider will be responsible for obtaining a Federal Aviation Administration launch license, as well as securing any necessary range assets and approvals for the launch.

Critical heat shield installed on NASA's new Orion spacecraft

NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers have installed the largest heat shield ever constructed on the crew module of the agency's new Orion spacecraft. The work marks a major milestone on the path toward the spacecraft's first launch in December.

The heat shield is made of a coating called Avcoat, which burns away as it heats up in a process called ablation to prevent the transfer of extreme temperatures to the crew module. The Avcoat is covered with a silver reflective tape that protects the material from the extreme cold temperatures of space.

Orion’s flight test, known as Exploration Flight Test-1, will provide engineers with data about the heat shield's ability to protect Orion and its future crews from the 4,000-degree heat of reentry and an ocean splashdown following the spacecraft’s 20,000-mile per hour reentry from space.

Orion's missions will include exploring an asteroid and Mars.

Orion's flight test also will provide important data for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and ocean recovery of the spacecraft. Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have built an advanced adapter to connect Orion to the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch the spacecraft during the December test. The adapter also will be used during future SLS missions. NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will recover the Orion crew module with the U.S. Navy after its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The heat shield was manufactured at Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colo. Construction was completed at Textron Defense Systems near Boston, Mass., before the heat shield was shipped to the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy, where Orion is being assembled.

In the coming months, the Orion crew and service modules will be joined and put through functional tests before the spacecraft is transported to Kennedy’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility for fueling. The spacecraft then will be transferred to the Launch Abort System (LAS) Facility to be connected to the LAS before making the journey to Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 37 for pad integration and launch operations.

Virginia-based Navy fighter jet crashes into sea

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 81 based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Va., impacted the water during an approach to the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier Wednesday night. The jet was flying off the coast of Southern California.

The pilot ejected from the aircraft, was recovered safely and is currently aboard Carl Vinson in stable condition,” the Navy said in a press statement. The F/A-18E Super Hornet has not been recovered. All remaining airborne aircraft were safely diverted to NAS North Island in Coronado, Calif. All air operations have ceased aboard Carl Vinson until further notice.
A safety investigation will be carried out to determine the cause of the mishap, Navy officials said.

Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently conducting a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). JTFEX is designed to test a strike group's ability to operate in hostile and complex environments with other U.S. and coalition forces. The integrated exercise combines specific warfare areas with the purpose of making preparations for the strike group's upcoming deployment.